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The city is working hard to re-introduce bicycles into downtown’s mix of viable transportation modes by adding more bike lanes, racks and even a bike valet at SunFest. Bikes were once a favorite way to get around downtown, and the vehicle of choice of West Palm’s police force. In 1921, the local paper estimated there were 4,300 bicycles – back then just called ‘wheels’– in use daily.
By the mid-to-late 1920s, as automobiles become more affordable, Clematis St. became a too-often hectic conflagration of Palm Beach “wheelchairs,” the three-wheeled, wicker rickshaws powered by the owner on a bike at the back, plus speeding cars, horse-drawn vehicles, pedestrians and individual cyclists. Makes rolling your eyes behind the trolley seem a bit diva, doesn’t it? Cars parked on an angle on the south side of the street and parallel parked on the north. Check out the line of investors in front of the real estate office where Palm Beach Dramaworks now stands. The land boom was in full swing – sound familiar? Interesting to see how moments in history… cycle.
The Historical Society of Palm Beach County provided our research and photos. Check them out: